COVID 19 Update

These guidelines supercede all previous guidelines issued from the Diocese. Legal requirements are subject to change. Details are available at https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/ and at https://www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/. Every effort is made to ensure that these guidelines are consistent with Government advice and directives. If there is inconsistency, the government directives take precedence.

 

UPDATE: Friday 15 October

Premier Peter Gutwein has announced a snap 3-day lockdown for Southern Tasmania, beginning at 6pm on Friday 15 October. This includes the local government areas of: Hobart, Glenorchy, Brighton, Central Highlands, Southern Midlands, Derwent Valley, Huon Valley, Kingborough, Clarence South, Sorell, Tasman and Glamorgan-Spring Bay.

In cooperation with the Public Health Orders, all Anglican Churches in Southern Tasmania will be closed on Sunday 17 October. Read more>>


Introduction:

Tasmania continues to enjoy relative freedom from infection control restrictions at present.

However we remain vulnerable to an outbreak of COVID 19 infection at any time and we need to maintain appropriate precautions until the population has been fully immunised.

COVID 19 is transmitted from person to person by surface contamination, but aerosol transmission from talking, coughing or singing is now recognised as being an even more significant mode of transmission.

This means that social distancing and limitations on gatherings remain important.

 

Revised Public Health Guidelines for Tasmania May 2021

1. CHECK-IN TAS APP

Use of this App is now a legal requirement for many places of public concourse, including churches.

Anyone aged 16 years or older who will be in a church or related building for more than 15 minutes is required to register using the Check-in Tas app. If a smart phone is not available to register a person, then a manual record can be made, and should be retained for 28 days.

If a person refuses to register, even after being given an explanation as to why a check-in is necessary, then they must be refused entry to the premises.

 

2. GATHERINGS

Revised regulations for gatherings are:

  • Indoors standing/socialising: limited to no more than 250 persons, including children, or to one person per 2 square metres, whichever is the lesser number. This would include church foyers, halls and meeting spaces.
  • Indoors seated: limited to no more than 250 persons, or up to 100% of seating capacity, whichever is the lesser. This includes most churches. In this situation clergy, staff and assistants can be additional to these limits.

 

3. COVID-SAFE PLANNING

Each meeting venue must continue to have a COVID Safety Plan and a COVID Contact Person responsible for this plan.

The Safety Plan should continue to include a cleaning plan for regular sanitising of surfaces likely to be touched, such as door handles and edges, chair backs, light switches, microphones, etc

Each venue should provide for each attendee to sanitise their hands upon entering.

Each venue must display signage advising people to stay home if they have symptoms of respiratory infection such as cough, sore throat, runny nose or fever, and to observe 1.5 metre social distancing where possible.

 

Specific risks in the Anglican Church setting:

Singing and sharing in communion are two higher risk activities which are important parts of our Anglican tradition.  These are, however, activities where there is a greater risk of aerosol transmission of COVID 19.

1. Singing

Congregational

Congregation members should be reminded to remain at home if they have respiratory symptoms such as cough, sore throat, runny nose or fever.

Adequate ventilation should be in place to allow airflow through the church or meeting centre.

Consideration can be given to limiting the time spent singing during services, either in number or length of hymns and songs.

 

Choirs

Several epidemiological case studies have shown that infected choir members have transmitted COVID 19 to congregational members. Steps can be taken to reduce this risk of spread.

Choirs facing a congregation should stand at least 2 metres away from the audience, but preferably further away than this. Choirs should preferably stand in a semi-circle only one row deep, with 1.5 metre spacings between choristers.

If more than one row of choristers is planned, then there should be a minimum of 1.5 metres between rows of singers.

Choristers should avoid sharing sheet music, pens, etc. with each other.

 

2. Celebration of Holy Communion

Both surface contact spread and aerosol spread of COVID 19 need to be considered when planning the administration and reception of the elements.

One of three forms of distribution are recommended:

  1. Wafers pre-infused with wine (a drop of wine is placed on the wafer and left to dry prior to the service). Distribution as normal with the words: The Body and Blood of Christ keep you in eternal life.
  2. Wafers and individual cups of wine or juice, distributed in the normal manner, with separate words for the bread and the wine.
  3. Pre-packaged wafer and juice, distributed to the seats (by servers with sanitised hands), the bread and wine being consumed in unison with the words being said from the front.

The following points should be taken into consideration:

  • The common cup should not be used except by the celebrant alone.
  • There is no need for communicants to sanitise their hands before receiving.
  • Prior to distribution of the elements, the celebrant may consider using the words of distribution to the whole congregation rather than individually and in close proximity to each communicant.
  • Where possible, communicants should be encouraged to observe 1.5 metre spacing when moving to, whilst at, and when returning from, the communion rail.
  • The celebrant and those assisting with the distribution should either sanitise their hands before distributing the elements or use a pair of tongs to distribute. The use of gloves is not required.

 

Future Restrictions:

Service leaders need to be aware that Public Health directions for gatherings are likely to change if community spread of COVID 19 is detected in Tasmania, and should be ready to change service plans at short notice to comply with any further Public Health directives as they are issued. Check the Tasmanian Government COVID 19 website for current information.

https://www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/keeping-yourself-safe/gatherings-density-and-physical-distancing

 

Dr Richard Lord
27/5/2021

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